Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today announced a $7 million plan to bring relief to businesses on the West Coast of the island suffering from a shortage of natural gas.
The proposals, which came out of a special joint meeting between the technical sub committee and boards of Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) and National Petroleum Corporation (NPC) yesterday, came on the heels of an outcry by customers, including several hotel and restaurant chains, that have been experiencing low gas pressure since last December.
Delivering a ministerial statement during today’s sitting of the House of Assembly, Stuart said the NPC agreed that industrial users of natural gas should switch immediately to alternative fuels for the short term.
Noting that the company had discovered that the production of some wells had fallen below the economic threshold, Stuart revealed that two other wells had now been identified that would be connected to the BNOCL’s existing gas-gathering system.
“It is estimated that this work will be completed within two weeks, with two and three shift per day operations. Permissions for approval from the land owners and the Ministry of Transport and Works to lay the necessary pipelines have already been or are in the process of being sought,” the Prime Minister explained.
He said four small air mix plants are also in the works and are scheduled to come on stream by month end, while another plant would be set up.
“One large air mix plant with built-in redundancy will be installed at Woodbourne after NPC has ensured the integrity of the pipeline to cope with such an installation,” he said.
The natural gas suppliers also agreed to transport compressed natural gas by trail-mounted vessels. Stuart estimated it would take three to four weeks to put the necessary infrastructure in place at the facility and import the necessary equipment.
He also revealed that in an effort to increase gas production and reserves, “the BNOCL will finalize the relevant contracts and other arrangements in order to resume its expanded drilling programme early in the third quarter of 2015”.
Stuart further explained that the suppliers have not been successful in identifying a mechanism for the importation of natural gas.
Officials have acknowledged that the local supply will become depleted “reasonably early”.
“BNOCL and NPC will however continue to seek sources of supply of imported natural gas,” Stuart said.